September 11th Advocates (‘Jersey Girls’) Comment on the Impending Release of Philip Shenon’s Book
February 6, 2008
As someone also motivated by the need for the truth about 9/11, as well as aware of the way conflicts of interest have a way of covering up truth, let me add my thanks to Philip Shenon on the release of his new book. Also let me share this recent comment forwarded to me by Monica Gabrielle of the September 11th Advocates:
Philip Shenon’s new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, serves to justify our suspicions and the concerns of the Family Steering Committee, that we attempted to publicly air during the course of the 9/11 Commission’s tenure.
One of the most egregious revelations put forth by Mr. Shenon is the fact that Philip Zelikow was hired as the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, despite his direct ties to the Bush administration. In 2000-2001 he served as a member of Condoleezza Rice’s National Security Council (NSC) transition team, where he was allegedly the “architect” of the decision to demote Richard Clarke and his counter terrorism team within the NSC. Furthermore he was a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) from 2001-2003, where Zelikow drafted most of the 2002 “National Security Strategy of the United States,” creating the pre-emptive Iraq war strategy. These areas were within the scope of the Commission’s mandate and as such were of critical importance to determine what, if any, impact they had on the government’s ability to prevent the 9/11 attacks.
As the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow was given the responsibility for choosing the entire direction of the Commission’s investigation. Essentially, Mr. Zelikow determined who was or was not interviewed as a witness, and which information was or was not looked at. He also influenced which documents would be requested from the various agencies. It seemed to us, that allowing an individual with this much involvement in the Bush administration to run the investigation, might give the appearance of impropriety and could ultimately taint the Commission’s findings.
In a statement issued by the Family Steering Committee of March 20, 2004 we wrote:
“It is apparent that Dr. Zelikow should never have been permitted to be Executive Staff Director of the Commission. As Executive Staff Director, his job has been to steer the direction of the Commission’s investigation, an investigation whose mandate includes understanding why the Bush Administration failed to prioritize the Al Qaeda threat.”
In the same statement we also called for:
“Zelikow’s immediate resignation; Zelikow’s testimony in public and under oath; and the subpoena of Zelikow’s notes from the intelligence briefings he attended with Richard Clarke.”
Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton instead chose to have Mr. Zelikow recuse himself from the areas of the investigation that dealt with the transition period. However, they allowed Mr. Zelikow to be one of only two people (Ms. Gorelick was the other) to review the presidential daily briefings (PDB’s), reports that went to the heart of what the White House and its National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, knew prior to 9/11. While investigating the events that led up to the September 11th attacks, Philip Zelikow was called as a witness by the 9/11 Commission though transcripts of his testimony were never made public.
Despite our vehement objections, Mr. Zelikow was allowed to remain in his position as what seemed to be the “gatekeeper” of the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Shenon’s book illustrates just how deeply and insidiously the Commission’s basic fact-finding work was compromised by Zelikow’s conflicts. He recounts that even after his recusal, Mr. Zelikow continued to insert himself into the work of “Team 3,” of the Commission. This team was responsible for examining the White House, and therefore, the conduct of Condoleeza Rice and Richard Clarke during the months prior to 9/11.
According to the author, Team 3 staffers would come to believe that Mr. Zelikow prevented them from submitting a report that would have depicted Ms. Rice’s performance as “amount[ing] to incompetence, or something not far from it.”
Evidence of the possible duplicitous nature of Mr. Zelikow’s role on the 9/11 Commission was further exemplified by his numerous conversations with Karl Rove, President Bush’s Senior Political Advisor. When questioned about his contact with Rove, Zelikow’s response was to tell his secretary to stop logging his calls.
Contrary to former Commissioner John Lehman’s recent comment on MSNBC that Zelikow’s conversations with Rove are a “red herring”, these contacts with Rove should have been a red flag. Negotiating for or procuring of White House documents for the Commission should have been done through the Office of White House Counsel NOT the president’s political advisor. Consequently, knowing how this would appear, one must ask why Zelikow was speaking with Rove?
It is abundantly clear that Philip Zelikow should have immediately been replaced when the first rumblings of his impropriety and conflicts of interest surfaced. When all of this information became clear, the Commissioners and the press should have called for Zelikow’s resignation. We did. Shamefully, most were silent.
Further evidence of political maneuvering came to light in the story of Commissioner Max Cleland. Cleland was publicly critical of the Commission and the Bush White House. According to Shenon’s book, when it became obvious that Max Cleland would continue to be loudly critical, Commission Chairman Tom Kean and Vice-Chair Lee Hamilton sought the help of Senator Tom Daschle to find Cleland a new job. Thus, Max Cleland was quietly removed and silenced with a new job in the Bush administration.
Also revealed in Shenon’s book is the fact that the Commission’s staff never ventured to the National Security Agency (NSA), the chief collector of intelligence information, in order to review their “voluminous treasure trove of documents.” At NSA Headquarters, 27 miles from the Commission’s offices, there was a “gold mine” of information detailing terrorist’s threats and connections, including those of al Qaeda. General Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA at the time, was eager to cooperate and share what his organization had with the 9/11 Commission, but Executive Director Zelikow was not interested.
A lone staffer, who understood the importance of these archives, had the information moved to a reading room within walking distance of the Commission’s offices. Even then, she was the only member of the Commission to take the time to read these documents. By her own admission, this insightful staffer had concerns as to how much she, on her own, would be able to glean from these jargon filled documents. Why didn’t Phil Zelikow make reviewing these vital NSA documents a Commission priority? It seems clear that not every fact and lead was followed in this investigation compromising the validity of the Commission’s final report and its findings.
Moreover, the “Pre-9/11 story” largely revolved around second- and third-hand knowledge of interrogations of tortured individuals, detainees that were being held in secret locations.
According to many sources at the CIA and deep within the government, confessions extracted from individuals who are tortured are generally deemed useless. A tortured detainee will say anything in order to make the torture stop and therefore, the confession cannot be trusted. One needs to look no further than the Army Field Manual on Interrogation (FM 34-52), which states in Chapter 1:
“Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.”
How could the Commission have based their entire pre-9/11 narrative on these unreliable, torture-induced confessions?
We believe that author Phil Shenon has revealed information which only scratches the surface as to what went on behind the scenes of this investigation.
Why, when this Congressionally mandated Commission could have done much to fix the fatal flaws in our in government by conducting a real investigation and making vital recommendations, would they instead allow it to become a sham. This investigation was meant to fix the loopholes that allowed our country to be so vulnerable. Why would they choose instead, to succumb to political machinations? What would we find out if a real investigation into September 11, 2001 were ever done?
The bottom line is that the most deadly attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor remains dangerously unexamined. This can only be remedied with an investigation guided by the facts and conducted outside the reach of those with a vested interest in suppressing the truth.
Lorie Van Auken
Source URL: Coleen Rowley’s Blog at Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/coleen-rowley/september-11th-advocates-_b_85343.html?view=print
9/11 widows call for new investigation after revelations of White House, commission ties
Published: Tuesday February 5, 2008
The widows whose political activism was largely responsible for the establishment of a commission to investigate the September 11 attacks say a new book revealing the backstory of the 9/11 Commission proves that their initial concerns about its executive director were correct and demonstrate the need for another investigation.
Philip Shenon, who covered the proceedings for the New York Times, has written a new book, The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation, which was released Tuesday. The book reveals the close ties between commission executive director Philip Zelikow and White House advisers Karl Rove and Condoleezza Rice.
The Commission also reveals that aside from one staff member, no one on the 9/11 investigative panel reviewed what was perhaps the most robust treasure trove of pre-9/11 intelligence on al Qaeda — records from the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic surveillance and codebreaking for the US Intelligence Community.
“General Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA at the time, was eager to cooperate and share what his organization had with the 9/11 Commission, but Executive Director Zelikow was not interested,” 9/11 widows Patty Casazza, Monica Gabriellle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken said in a statement reacting to the book.
“Why didnt Phil Zelikow make reviewing these vital NSA documents a Commission priority?” they ask. “It seems clear that not every fact and lead was followed in this investigation compromising the validity of the Commission’s final report and its findings.”
The 9/11 widows called for Zelikow to resign or be fired from the Commission back in 2004, when his ties with Rice and Rove were first revealed. Shenon’s book, they say, proves their concerns were right all along.
“It is abundantly clear that Philip Zelikow should have immediately been replaced when the first rumblings of his impropriety and conflicts of interest surfaced,” they said. “When all of this information became clear, the Commissioners and the press should have called for Zelikows resignation. We did. Shamefully, most were silent.”
As washingtonpost.com columnist Dan Froomkin notes, “This isn’t the first time it’s turned out that the 9/11 Commission wasn’t getting the full picture. It’s not even the second.”
Bob Woodward revealed in his book State of Denial, that 9/11 Commission members were not told of a July 10, 2001, meeting in which then-CIA Director George Tenet tried to warn Rice and Bush about the need to focus on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, while the president and his confidant were distracted by their pursuit of a missile defense system.
In another Bush administration exposé, investigative reporter Ron Suskind revealed the president’s brush-off of the ominous memo warning “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”:
“All right,” Bush told the panicked CIA briefer who interrupted the president’s vacation to deliver the warning in person. “You’ve covered your ass, now.”
The 9/11 widows also fault the Commission for relying too much on information gained from “second and third hand knowledge of interrogations of tortured individuals, detainees that were being held in secret locations.”
They say Shenon’s book reveals information that “only scratches the surface” of what happened within the government before the 9/11 attacks.
“The bottom line is that the most deadly attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor remains dangerously unexamined,” they write. “This can only be remedied with an investigation guided by the facts and conducted outside the reach of those with a vested interest in suppressing the truth.”
UQ Wire: Hence & Widows Open Letter To 911 Cmssrs.
Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Kyle F. Hence
*OPEN LETTER with attached Comment from September 11th Advocates (aka “9/11 widows”)*
Dear 9/11 Commissioners:
Tomorrow Philip Shenon’s book, “The Commission” will be released. I forward the Comment just released by September 11th Advocates (the leading 9/11 family members behind the Commission) along with a comment of my own here:
Some of you have yourselves said the 9/11 Report is “not the last word” on what happened. This is no doubt true. Horribly and tragically true. The next question is of course: what are we (or you) going to do about that? Will you address where you fell short or seek to rectify the situation? For starters, the record now shows that a few of you (you know who you are) were responsible for leaving out details of the Tenet/Black meeting with Rice/Clark on July 10 ’01 and another with Ashcroft on the 18th. And the Commission left out details of the Global Guardian ‘air-war exercises (normally scheduled for October but moved to Sept), Able Danger ID of four of the future hijackers (per 5 credible witnesses), and the revelations of FBI translator Sibel Edmonds – www.justacitizen.com/, several of whose allegations had been confirmed by the likes of senior Senators (and others have confirmed more recent claims). And now, thanks to the CIA and FBI IG Reports we know a whole lot more about the extent, nature and timing of the CIA’s withholding of key information about Hazmi and Mihdhar from FBI investigators on the trail of those tied to the Cole and Embassy bombings. (I could go on and on and not posit a single theory or speculate).
I am willing to concede you were dedicated and labored hard on a difficult task but I am certainly not willing to let you all off the hook for hiring or not firing Philip Zelikow, for avoiding the anthrax attack, for producing an obviously compromised and incomplete report, for not naming names, for not issuing needed subpoenas, for ignoring important witnesses, for giving too much credence to tortured co-conspirators, for concluding that the question of who funded the attacks is of ‘little practical significance, “for softening the report to protect the Bush administration, for the embargo on Commissioner comment until after the election, for overlooking the missing trillions from the DoD.” (See… http://www.solari.com/learn/articles_missingmoney.htm.)
In the long run history will no doubt be harsh on your record but less so, or quite the reverse, if you come forward with candid admission of where you fell down and if you stand up now, or when the time comes, to support a new investigation. For God’s sake, admit that Philip Zelikow for all his seeming intelligence, dedication and hard work had no business running the Commission, if not for appearance’s sake alone.
Many years after the Warren Commission issued its own final report, the Permanent Select Committee on Assassinations concluded there was a wider conspiracy behind the killing of JFK. Let’s hope it we don’t have to wait as long for a new investigation of 9/11 and let’s hope we don’t get yet another unsatisfactory and incomplete finding should one be convened. No doubt the families will not make the same mistake twice and this time insist on a formal role in an investigation. In case after case without the benefit of classified material or ‘access’, the 9/11 families put the government’s own investigators to shame. With your honest help let’s hope the future writes a different story; for the sake of all of us and our children.
Please join the now millions of people around the world who have honestly and thoroughly examined the findings of fact and circumstances laid out in your Report and found them deceptive, or incomplete, and call for a new investigation that reveals the truth, that follows all the evidence trails, wherever they might lead.
Kyle F. Hence